Last December, the 15-year veteran of GE was named vice president for sourcing at GE Energy. As an officer, Markopoulos is responsible for procuring any products and services required for GE Energy’s sourcing operations, overseeing roughly $17 billion in purchases worldwide. GE has less than 200 officers around the globe.
But don’t let her position fool you. “I’m a factory rat,” admits Markopoulos. “I grew up in southern Massachusetts on a farm, so I’ve always liked to build things, work on cars and tractors, and generally be very hands on. Luckily, I still get to play in a lot of factories.”
Markopoulos began working at GE when she left Clarkson in 1993 with a degree in Interdisciplinary Engineering & Management. Starting her GE career in the company’s manufacturing management development program, Markopoulos spent two years doing rotations in methods manufacturing and quality assurance and also worked as a shop foreman.
The alumna says that she has always worked in the global supply chain, a place where she has been able to use the skills she learned at Clarkson. These include stints as a sourcing quality engineer and commodity leader with GE’s steam turbine product line, an asset manager of power generation, and a general manager of quality, where she was responsible for managing and deploying GE Energy’s quality strategy across the portfolio.
“The great thing about my career is that I’ve been given multiple opportunities to demonstrate my abilities,” says Markopoulos. “It’s been very rewarding to be challenged and be able to learn at the same time.”
Although based in Atlanta, Markopoulos travels about 40 percent of the time. One spot that Markopoulos has spent a significant amount of time is China. With about 100 employees reporting to her in China alone, she often travels to the company’s global research center. This past year, Markopoulos led a GE Women’s Network seminar in Shanghai, sharing tools and tips for how to manage a successful career.
“The focus was on career building and management,” says Markopoulos. “We discussed how to develop a ‘personal brand,’ that means thinking about what traits you want to develop and be known for, how you want to present yourself and what you stand for. It also means managing work-life balance and learning how to make personal and professional choices that are consistent with your personal brand.”
So what is her personal brand?
“I’m known for liking to produce, to be hands on and to have high energy,” she says. “I like to be thought of as fun but serious, and most importantly, fair.”
Markopoulos also knows first hand about the challenges of mixing business and family. She balances the demands of a high-powered career with her role as mother to 10-year-old daughter Olivia and eight-year-old son Alex, and wife to husband Andrew.
Markopoulos will soon be joining the Dean’s Leadership Council of the Coulter School of Engineering at Clarkson. She currently sits on the Advisory Council of the H. Milton Stewart School of Industrial and Systems Engineering at the Georgia Institute of Technology. She also volunteers with a group called Girls Incorporated, leading seminars in local schools to talk to students, especially females, about engineering and science careers. Reaching out to the next generation of corporate leaders is important to her.
While she helps others make decisions about their professional futures, Markopoulos is satisfied with the decisions she has made in her own career.
“I never get hit with the same thing everyday and I’m always on my toes. It’s exciting,” she says. “In my position today, I travel frequently and have a great opportunity to interact with many different suppliers, customers and employees around the world. It’s like I work at a massive playground, where I’m constantly challenged and growing. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”